December 6, 2016

Goodbye to the Way We Were

Reaffirmation Post: In which I discuss how I got from "there" to "here" back in April, 2006....

My Back Pages: Debating on the step of Sproul Hall, UC Berkeley, 1966. (Left to right:) Me (Somewhat younger but just as strident), An Iranian friend named "Jaz" -- worked with me in the UC library, a refugee from the Shah's Iran -- probably went back after the fall of the Shah, (foreground right) He lost his eye in the Hungarian Uprising and had to run for the border and on into the West to stay alive. In this picture he's attempting to convince me that Communism is an evil ideology. I'm not buying it then, but I buy it now. (Click to enlarge)

Well, I try my best
To be just like I am,
But everybody wants you
To be just like them.
They sing while you slave and I just get bored.
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.

-- Maggie's Farm

A friend with whom I have a daily correspondence takes great pleasure in needling me on my, shall we say, adamantine position that we need to start fighting the First Terrorist War to win it and not as if we are engaged in a game of patty-cake. In March of 2004, after the Madrid bombings, while I was trapped on a Cruise Ship somewhere deep inside the sixth circle of Hell, he decided it was an ideal time convert me to his policy of "reasonable accommodation." It was the moment in which, as he put it, "...the common citizens of Spain and France are saying 'Tell us again what this got us, other than lots of angry teenagers with bombs?' "

I replied that I'd lived for years in France, with months in and about Spain, and most of the 'common citizens' of those countries would surrender to anything and sell out anyone if it meant they could shop in peace for a few more years. Vichy and Franco came to mind as examples.

Yesterday, in Tel Aviv, the angry teenager with a bomb on his body came again, as he has so many times over the last few years, and as he will in the years to come. Maybe Spain was right to see the effort as futile. Maybe Europe as a whole should just roll over and not just play dead, but be dead. Perhaps Israel should just shrug and say, "Okay, you win. We'll move or we'll die. You tell us."

After all, what's really in all this fighting and dying for anyone? None of the countries that are engaged in this war against terror seems to be ready to do the terrible things necessary to end terror. ("Don't you see? That would make us just like them!" "Perhaps, but we would be alive to repent and reform.")

I once admired the subtle thought, the careful parsing, the diplomatic pas-de-deux of policy, but lately I seem to have gotten a taste for straight talk. It seems to me that if you don't go to war ready to achieve victory by any means necessary -- by any means necessary -- why would you bother to go at all? And of late, I'm only hearing the weasel word "win." I'm not hearing a lot about "victory," which is quite a different thing.

It seems to me that if you are actually "in" a war, victories, big and small, are what you seek to achieve. Once you have the final victory, and that means that the enemy and all that supports the enemy, is so destroyed and laid waste that there's no fight left in him, then and only then can you say you have "won." Absent a drive for victory, there seems to be nothing in this war for any one fighting terror on any front other than pain and death -- and the added insult of an unremitting disparagement from many of the citizens for whom they fight.

That's certainly true when it comes to the United States of late. We seem stalled at the stage of the struggle that brings to mind Churchill's proclamation that he had nothing to offer except, "blood, sweat and tears." We've had those three things constantly for years -- as our media are so keen to remind us every three minutes of every day.

Another factor in the dumb-show called "Bringing Democracy to the Middle East" seems to be that our leadership has become, shall we say, less than inspiring and more like Monty Hall emceeing "Let's Make A Deal" with contestants and a studio audience packed with crazed and crapulous mullahs. Finally, we're seeing a host of our fellow citizens so immersed in their hatred of George Bush that the impression we are hip-deep in demented traitors is getting hard to shake.

All of these things conspire, on a daily basis, to shake our belief in ourselves, our institutions and our commitment to rid the world of the scourge of terrorism. Lately we seem to be living on a daily drip-feed of despair for our future and estrangement from our past. It's not a new diet in this country, but it is starting to assume the proportions of a runaway fad diet, a political Pritikins. And yet this thin gruel is what's being poured into us from Seattle, Washington to Washington, D.C.

If you look closely at this diet for a diminished America you see a familiar list of "ingredients." The list is composed of the ideological stock and trade of a significant segment of Americans to whom this nation, as conceived by our founders, and struggled for for more than 200 years is merely one long, large joke.

And I should know. After all, that boy in the picture up there -- that boy that thought Communism was "something we could live with" -- that young boy was me.

In my small way, I took part in the crafting of The Joke on America. For years I thought there was nothing funnier. Conceived during the waning months of World War II, I had no idea I was a Baby Boomer, but that, in the end, was what I was. And being a member of this large and fortunate generation gave me the leisure to develop quite a sense of humor when it came to basic human values.

When I was a student at the University of California at Berkeley in the late 1960s, we were the brave new world's social engineers. We were the innovators. We were busy innovating the brave new world where everything about the old world of our parents seemed either hilarious or evil.

Our program was quite clear early on and it hasn't changed a jot, it has simply gotten more pervasive and elaborate. After all, we're older now and we're in control. We can finally fund these things. With your money.

God, if he didn't emerge from 500 mikes of pure Sandoz LSD, was just a funny old guy a little bit like Santa Claus but with less of a user base.

The Bill of Rights was okay as long as you could figure out someway to erase a few of the amendments involving guns and add a host of new ones involving groups.

The Constitution? Too long and too arcane to really read with care. It was a given so what did we care?

History? The only really happening history was the future, man. Ours.

The United States? They were really "AmeriKKKa" -- Satan incarnate.

The US Military? Baby killers and agents of Satan.

The Police? Pigs.

The Viet Cong, Fidel Castro, and a host of other evil dictators and fascists? Heroes of "The People."

The People? Really wonderful as long as you didn't really have to hang out with them.

Voting in political parties? Stupid. We were into "participatory democracy" which involved really long meetings. ( This is now known as "emergent democracy" and involves really long online discussion threads.)

We believed in sex and drugs and rock and roll.

We were determined to resist "the man" on all levels.

We were young.

And we were very, very stupid for college kids. Check that. We were stupid because we were college kids.

Many of the most committed of us, decades later, are still in college and even dumber. We're professors now and our ability to be dumb has never been deeper.

Others of us are well ensconced in the various parts of what passes for the media. We're there with a lot of others just like us and, even if we thought differently, we'd never say it for fear of losing regard, position, grants, or promotion. Besides, we've been around others who think like us for so long its no problem at all to top up the latte and nod in blind agreement.

Nope, we never sold out. We bought in. But we kept the Che poster pinned up forever in our hearts.

And now, we've arrived at our rendezvous with history.

In our aging but fitness-crazed hearts, we hate what we've become and, like any good group of neurotics, transfer that hate to the country that gave us everything including the Long Peace in which to enjoy it.

We're the first in line to bitch and moan and hate a country that makes our freedom possible. More than that we're also in love with the privilege, comfort, money and safety that makes it possible for us to mouth off without limit. And finally, we're coming to understand that we are not our parents' generation, we're "The Not-So-Great" Generation, and, like our president, deep down we're cowards.

We say we're 'afraid' of losing our cherished 'freedom' to the jackbooted legions of Conservative Brownshirts that might stifle our dissent from every street corner. That's really what a lot of us think. That's really just how bull-goose looney we've become.

We're so afraid that we can't look at what scares us but instead pull the covers over our head and dream of the ChristerBoogeymen. Why? Because they're an illusion. They are not really scary at all. Why? Because they are all "just pretend," and we know it. What many of us simply cannot face is the real terror of the times, terror.

We're really afraid of the wrath of those who, unlike us who believe in nothing, believe in something so deeply that they'll kill us for it and die doing it. The bomb in the baby carriage that's wired to the radio. The teenager in the Army sweatshirt with three pounds of C4 wrapped inside of two pounds of ball bearings showing up at the Mall for a Big Mac Attack. The Muslim-American who decides one afternoon to park his Jeep on top of as many of our kids as he can find in a group. That guy sitting next to the window at 36,000 feet with fuses coming out of his Nikes and a t-shirt on that says, "Just Do It." The Immam with a plan who is so tense that he decides to walk into downtown San Francisco and unwind with a small shooting spree. All these realities disturb our dreams and threaten to pull the covers off our heads. We want to elect magic soothing daddy-cools to smarm us to sleep.

As a result, we like the slogans, books, movies, TV shows, politicians and publications that confirm for us the deep liberal dream that if we are just understanding enough, long enough, apologize for living enough, and offer enough in the way of bribes, the oppressed of the world will come to love us... and then just leave us alone.

Like the Spanish in 2004, we believe that by selling off our ideals we'll receive, in return, peace and cheap vacation rentals in France and Greece for the rest of our lives. Like the Spanish, a lot of us believe that by just being nice we'll be left alone to wallow in our prosperity. Like the Spanish, we've come to believe that there's nothing in war for us except "teenagers with bombs."

Like I said, people of my 60s generation are very, very dumb. And, it would seem, we've now bred children who are even dumber than we are. We are now, as far as dumb liberalism is concerned, deep into the third generation of the soul dead and the dumb, and its clear that not a lot of us are coming around soon enough to avoid another massacre on American soil. To paraphrase a slogan about working with heavy machinery, "You get stupid around terrorism and it'll hurt you real quick and real bad."

We're so stupid we've even started to believe "It can't happen here" after it already has. "Just a one-off. Chillax. Never again. Forget about it."

How can we get off on being "stuck on stupid" when it comes to this First Terrorist War? How can we prevent another"9/11," "4/20," "5/14," "7/4," "12/25"? Pick a number, any number, there are 365 to choose from. But before that we might want to consider, seriously and carefully, taking some measures which are not merely careful campaigns to 'bring the fruits of democracy,' but things that fall, instead, under the general heading of "draconian." A modest beginning in this regard would be to convince many members of my baby-boom generation to simply shut up and eat their tofu.

You don't have to look very far to see that while the dumb teenager might be the Terrorist's first choice when it comes to delivery vehicles, that teenager isn't the one choosing the target, setting the timer, choosing the target, or buying the bomb. That sort of thing is left to the "leadership" which is far too valuable to expend itself on direct attacks. We might want to do this no matter how mum our leaders have become on the subject. Their leadership is still, thanks to our ever softening policies towards terror, very much in business.

Nor do you have to look very far to understand what the goals of that leadership are. You are told what they are in sermon after sermon throughout the Muslim world week after week. But those of my generation who are still mired in the ideological foolishness of their youth cannot hear these words and, even if they did, would not believe them.

My generation springs from a culture where words seldom have any consequences as long as you choose the right ones. Because of this words don't seem like weapons to us. Words, to my generation, are merely poses at cocktail parties at best, the latest glib lyrics of some pot-drenched rock idol who believes that having a hundred voice choir screech out "Impeach the President" is the latest iteration of cool, until the new, cooler president steps forward and administers another slap of pap to the brain.

The Terrorist War scares my generation more deeply than teenager bombs in Tel Aviv put the fear into the Israelis. The Terrorist War is something that is in earnest and it is something that will not go away. What scares them the most about it all is that the conflict, at its deepest core, is actually about something my generation understands only as one of the great standing jokes of our youth: Religion.

You see my "people" don't really get religion unless it comes with a lot of New Age claptrap or a hefty dose of Zen. Pure Christianity or Orthodox Judaism or Islam is far, far outside our ken.

Where previous generations could write, as late as 1927, the sentiments found in the Desiderata:

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

My generation was the one that came up with the variation called the Deteriorata :
You are a fluke of the Universe. You have no right to be here, and whether you can hear it or not, The Universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore make peace with your God whatever you conceive him to be, Hairy Thunderer or Cosmic Muffin.

With all its hopes, dreams, promises and urban renewal, The world continues to deteriorate.

Give up.

I believe that to be The New Commandments of the 60s boomers. The "Bible" of our generation, the National Lampoon, first came up with them. I remember how funny we all thought they were. A laugh riot and, well, so true too. So right on. Words to live by.

But when you get a little further down the road and look back, if you have learned anything at all, you'll have learned to cherish the sentiment of the Desiderata and despise the mocking nothingness in the Deteriorata. They are not 'words to live by,' but 'words to die by.'

But my generation, being eternally drenched in a mindless nostalgia for its weird youth, refuses to learn that. It believes that the cool answer to the great crisis which has been brought to us in the last five years is to make a sign that says " I heart New York more without the twin towers," parade about in the streets and, when confronted with the death of your fellow citizens, to stand firmly in solidarity with the sheep of Europe and say, "Give up."

When I look at the spectacle that my Boomer generation has made of itself, a generation that had everything going for it, that had every opportunity, and came up with Caramel Soy Lattes, "Impeach the President," [and now Barack Obama] all I can say is:

"I resign the Revolution. I'm joining the Resistance."

Posted by Vanderleun at December 6, 2016 7:57 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Your essay brings to mind Walt Kelly and his enlightened comic strip, Pogo.

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Posted by: ChiefTestPilot at April 18, 2006 4:54 AM

Excellent. This is what I've been trying to say for years, but could only sputter and stammer in incomplete sentences whenever the topic arises.

This should be in every damn paper in the country instead of the warmed-over crap by Maureen Dowd and breaking news of "Brangelina".

Thank you, Gerard.

Posted by: Mumblix Grumph at April 18, 2006 5:52 AM


Thanks for bearing your soul, again. Future generations will place folks like you, David Horowitz, and Tammy Bruce as the people who(hopefully!) will have helped to save the Republic.

Do you feel like this is deja-vous 1935? Haven't we done all this already? Leaders like Churchill booed. Leaders like Chamberlain embraced.

And will the Leftists fight, or will they convert to Islam to keep their pathetic selves "alive"? They appear to be quite spineless to me.

Yours in the Constitution,


Posted by: Jim at April 18, 2006 6:47 AM

Amen, again

Posted by: snowbird at April 18, 2006 7:22 AM

So it's true: in the liberal land of the ideologically blind, the one-eyed Hungarian is still king.

Posted by: Gagdad Bob at April 18, 2006 8:13 AM

Well said. Extremely well said. Makes one wonder if it's humanly possible for Jane Fonda,et el, to read this and make a thoughtful, intelligent comment(s).

Posted by: Mark J Keaney at April 18, 2006 8:25 AM


Your post is wonderful. However, don't despair too much. Not all of our generation are "eternally drenched in a mindless nostalgia for its weird youth".

I too am a UC Berkeley boomer (although a few years later than you--the People's Park era rather than the FSM). I too fully bought into the racicalism that was oh so chic at the time. But somewhere along the line I morphed from a proud Carter voter into a rabid Reaganite. (Yes, the same Reagan I so reviled and demonstrated against when,as Governer, he came to campus for Board of Regents meetings.)

I daresay there are many, many more of us who are part of "The Resistance". We are just not as vocal and obsessively attention-seeking as the Caramel Latte drinkers.

Posted by: GEC at April 18, 2006 8:30 AM

Thank you for a wonderful declaration of liberty. You speak for so many of us. I converted to reason in 1990, thanks to a stellar economics professor at Pacific Lutheran University. From those 15 years experience as an outsider in my own land of lattes:

Thank goodness you already know lots of attack-trained attorneys. You may need them when the left gets wind of such a high profile manifesto of defection. Mike Adams over at can advise you about handguns, and REI is a good source for the rain-resist clothing you need to prowl the streets of Seattle seeking to subvert the natives. REI gear can also be considered camouflage; in it you can more easily pass yourself as a proper northwest greenie. It won't do to have a freedom fighter beaten to death with organic zucchini down at the supermarket.

Being on the right side promotes fitness. Hanging out with the ex-military types and lifetime hunters, farmers and construction workers who populate the resistance can't help but be a good thing for those of us who used to consider carrying the Sunday New York Times home a good workout.

We save money on food too. Bottled water, designer salads and imported French goods are OUT and tap water, comfort food and wonderful cheap American beer are IN.

Last but not least, don't despair as you survey the abundance of local grievance collectors, grant hustlers, poverty pimps and entitlement princesses. There are people in Seattle with clean haircuts, no piercings and actual free market skills, and someday you may be lucky enough to meet one or two of them!

Posted by: AskMom at April 18, 2006 8:54 AM

Oh, I hung around long enough to smell the shotgun smoke of People's Park.

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun at April 18, 2006 10:14 AM

It turned into a post

Why do you keep doing this to me? Just once can't you post something that doesn't make me go on at length in response? I'm just not the type of guy to write a "me too" when I read a bit of worthy prose.

If not for me, then for my aging keyboard.

Posted by: Alan Kellogg at April 18, 2006 10:39 AM

Thanks, Gerard- wonderful work again. Our Boomer Generation has earned everything you give them.

Posted by: ckreiz at April 18, 2006 11:50 AM

What took you so long?

Posted by: Eric Blair at April 18, 2006 12:03 PM

Gerard, I have a gut feeling that a major reason the polls are so low for Bush is that he appears not to be agressive enough in the war effort. At the same time I think the polls that show the Republicans in congress likewise have poor showing is that they will not carry the fight to the liberals. I remember when the Twin Towers went down a massive show of determination to achieve victory over the enemy. In Georgetown, Texas, near where I live, it seemed that everyone was flying the stars and stripes. Many, many vehicles had full sized flags rigged on poles. Where are those people now? I think they are still here and just as adamant that we totally vanquish the enemy. The people are willing to be led to victory. What we lack is leadership that knows how to harness this will.

Thank you for your eloquence.

John Hinds
Vietnam Veteran
Member, Patriot Guard

Posted by: John Hinds at April 18, 2006 3:31 PM

Mr Hinds, you and I are but two minds with a single thought.

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun at April 18, 2006 4:39 PM

As always, good stuff. However, I would argue that real conundrum facing our decision makers is that they cannot/will not call the enemy by its real name. You yourself fall into the trap of calling for the elimination of terrorism, which of course is an age-old tactic of the weaker beligerent and not in our power to wipe out. Terrorism isn't the enemy. Nor are terrorists. Instead of being the enemy, terrorists are foot soldiers of the enemy, which is a core of radical, violent, extremist Islamists. But you can't say that if you're a leader in the government or the military. So we have proferred the myth of terrorist-as-enemy so much that many just accept it as fact. Recipe for failure. The first step to engaging in this war is to call the enemy out by its real name. To paraphrase Sun Tzu, know thyself, know thy enemy, and you will be victorious.

Posted by: Jeff at April 18, 2006 10:38 PM

On the post on PJM main page, the date under your Berkeley photo is 1996. Shouldn't it be 1965?

Posted by: Anne Estabrook at April 19, 2006 7:00 AM

There are a couple of other factors that need to be taken in to account:

1. The resurgence in Islam and radical Islam is the result of the ocean of oil money that has flowed into a previously impoverished area. If the West were sensible imperialists they wouldn't be making their enemies richer.

2. The extreme attitudes of the US Democratic party and the left is partly a reaction to the impeachment of Bill Clinton. This was seen as "Dirty Pool" and a sort of unfair "Nuclear option". The rules of US domestic politics are now seen as different. The "Gloves are off". If they were ever on. Perhaps, instead, the brass knuckles are now on. Same idea.

3. George W Bush just isn't as capable as either Clinton or Bush Sr. The Republican party obviously thought that by surrounding him with numerous wiser heads with greater experience (Cheney, Rumsfeld et cetera) that W's weakenesses could be finessed. This might have actually worked had the attacks of 9/11 not occurred.

4. If the old Beserkely/SDS ethos were as dominant as you say, Reagan would never have been elected and neither would either of the Bushes. What's happened is that the fall of the Soviet Union has disoriented the "Left" and they are falling back on old reflexes until they re-organize their thoughts and strategies. This might never occur, of course.

5. The existing anti-Semitism of the Muslim and Arab world was reinforced by an injection of Third Reich ideology in the 1940's and given a cause by the creation of the state of Israel. The Saudi's recycle the money they get for oil into grants for Islamic Studies all throughout the West, furthering their world view.

Posted by: Fred at April 19, 2006 7:39 AM

Wonderful post, exactly on target!

The Dems are clearly the still not matured remnants of the radical dredge. They would happily sink the entire nation if only to gain control of the sunken ship. Not bright enough to understand all the implications, you know.

The problem is much wider, as you allude. It is the western world itself that has drowned itself in absurdist absynthe, perhaps out of too great affluence, or perhaps the human genome has reached its limits. Maybe people really are this stupid.

Posted by: Ted at April 19, 2006 9:43 AM

Thanks for the amazing post. I have thought about it for the past couple of days....

I was born in 1968--I don't even remember 'the sixties', yet the people who did influence everything I see, read or do.

It's frustrating:
Not every war is VietNam.
Not every President is Nixon.
Not every year is 1964 for civil rights.
Not every Republican is Goldwater or McCarthy.
Not every struggle is a People's Struggle Against Oppression (whatever that is.....)

Not every man is The Man.

Posted by: Evan Larsen at April 19, 2006 10:07 AM

What was it that Screwtape said about flippancy?

"Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk *as if* virtue were funny. Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy; it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practise it."

Posted by: Michael Andreyakovich at April 19, 2006 10:23 AM

Do I detect a bit of wistfulness in this post? While I agree with the conclusions you enumerate, I am not at all optimistic. Another, larger attack upon the U.S. will bring about the same stupid liberal, 'Why don't we just talk to them, and find out why they hate us?, response. Many of us conservatives will scream, 'If you hate the country so much, you are free to leave!'
Meanwhile, we'll be busy holding our politicians to the fire. Certain civil liberties may have to be momentarily suspended. Jefferson might have to be invoked again. 'The tree of liberty has to be fed with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.' Our government is today a reflection of all liberals in the mainstream media and on the college campuses. 'Politically correct speech' that does not offend, is in the end, just so much more pablum.
We are at war with a cunning, ruthless, bunch of Islamic ideologues, who want to take the world back to the 9th century. They truly believe they will someday dominate the world.
We ignore this at our peril. I can't think of anyone in the Bush administration today who is a real leader. If there were one, they'd have to ask for his resignation, because he'd scare the pants off all of them.

Posted by: PineKnot at April 19, 2006 10:41 AM

A lot of people seem to be calling for Rumsfeld's resignation....

Posted by: Eric Blair at April 19, 2006 11:43 AM

You hit a number of bulls'-eyes. This could be an extended commentary on "Nanny Man & Mullah Man."

Posted by: gringoman at April 19, 2006 8:25 PM

Gerard: A most excellent and reflective post.

Fred: Your item #4 ". If the old Beserkely/SDS ethos were as dominant as you say, Reagan would never have been elected and neither would either of the Bushes. What's happened is that the fall of the Soviet Union has disoriented the "Left" and they are falling back on old reflexes until they re-organize their thoughts and strategies. This might never occur, of course." is partially true in that the left may never re-organize (one may hope). Unfortunately, those on the Left are convinced that to be elected President, one only need to campaign in NY (city), LA, San Francisco, Boston, DC, and other major Metropolitan areas. Say things that sound good and go on about their business. Those in 'flyover' country or on Active Duty do not count as they are not the 'right thinking people - if they were they would be where the action is.'

If you look at the States that Bush (both) and Reagan won, they were all in 'flyover country' whose total of Electoral College votes were enough to overcome those in the Northeast and the Left Coast. Both Bushes and Reagan understood that the strength of America is in the American worker and farmer. The overwhelming majority of which THINK and vote responsibly. And who happen to live in 'flyover country'.

The other thing the Left fails to understand is that these thinking people have heard their message - and are rejecting it at every opportunity. Socialism/Communism does not work. It is a flaw of the systems themselves, not the people who are trying to make it work. One of the underlying themes of the US Left seems to be that Marxism-Lenninism/Maoist Communism and European Socialism (ala Rousseau) can be made to work if only the 'right' people are in charge of making it work (themselves, of course - the great unwashed outside the gates of their ivory towers have no relevant opinions). This is also evident in their defense of their pet theories, such as human (read U.S.) caused global warming. In any dispute between observed reality and the theoretical model, it is reality that's got it wrong...

As to the Global War Against Terrorism - I have heard one individual call it W's campaign to export democracy (pejoritively, of course): Many seem to think that it is only against al-qaida and Osama Bin Laden, and if they are captured all will be well. As others have noted in this thread - it is NOT the fighters we need focus soley on. It is the imams and mullahs behind them who are the real threat to freedom and liberty. W is right to attempt to remove the training camps and safe haves (state sponsors); but until we target the mullahs who teach such ideas, we will not win. They may not win either; but their immediate goal is simply to avoid losing - and they are succeeding on that level.

Posted by: dash at April 20, 2006 3:13 PM

Excellent post. I've linked to you here:

Posted by: Consul-At-Arms at April 20, 2006 4:22 PM

Nice piece. I've mailed it about, including some bloggers -- hopefully you'll get some linkage.

Posted by: OhBloodyHell at April 21, 2006 5:23 AM

Very good post about why the left is spineless. However, I would submit to you that the right is also intellectually bankrupt and ignorant of history. You can't just send an army into a foreign country, kill it's dictator and expect to set up a democracy there. The declaration of independence says that a just government rules by the consent of the governed. If the Iraqis want an Islamic theocracy, then no amount of US bullying is going to put a "seperation of church and state" representative democracy there. Consider for example, Korea. The Korean war was fought in the 1950s. Well, guess what. Korea was a dictatorship all through the 1970s. It slowly started to become a democracy through the 1980s but not because of US help (the US actually supported the dictators by for example, supporting the Gyongju uprising). It's 50 years after the Korean war, and we STILL have American troops stationed there. We also STILL have troops stationed in Germany and Japan.

So Rumsfeld just shows his ignorance of history when he claims optimism about Iraq. Since Americans don't have the will to have troops stay there for 50+ years (like in Korea, Japan, Germany, Phillipines, etc.) we will pull out, Iraq will become unstable (there is already a civil war going on there) and this will go down in history as one of Bush's failures.

Posted by: Brian Dean at April 21, 2006 7:46 PM

I wish you would put up a tip jar or at least a link to an Amazon wishlist. You put out far too much goodness not to get some back.

Posted by: Uncle Mikey at April 21, 2006 9:13 PM

Sorry to offer the only flippant comment here among many fine comments to an absolutely brilliant essay,

but, is the student in the lower right hand corner of the photo sporting an eye patch?

Didn't you want to wear one too in the 60's (I wanted to) and smoke Benson and Hedges 100s? (secret agent man...)

Yes, we were a bunch of stupid punks.

Posted by: Doug at April 22, 2006 10:50 AM

I had never read you before. You are now on my permanent must-read list. We are of the same age and before-and-after mindset, but I was never able to articulate it as you have. Thank you.

Nanner in Atlanner

Posted by: nan at April 22, 2006 12:50 PM

Actually, the man wearing the eyepatch would have told you he lost the use of the eye in the Hungarian uprising.

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun at April 26, 2006 10:53 AM

Great essay,Gerald, it's sad that many of the things that have churning since then, are coming
to fruition under Obama. I was born in the year of Woodstock, in one of those 'people's states' as Ayn Rand put in Atlas Shrugged, to our South, so I recognized that "Something Wicked This Way Comes" a while ago. I hope that some of your darker forebodings, re Afghanistan don't come to pass. Along with leadership, that will see us through this, and you have an idea of who I speak.

Posted by: narciso at July 26, 2009 7:38 AM

There was another generation that was first, educated at Cambridge and led by the Bloomsbury group from the 1880's onward, which formed the destruction of that ancient society. Lord Keynes was a member, and wrote about it late in his life-

'We repudiated all versions of the doctrine of original sin, of there being insane and irrational springs of wickedness in most men. We were not aware that civilisation was a thin and precarious crust erected by the personality and the will of a very few, and only maintained by rules and conventions skillfully put across and guilefully preserved. We had no respect for traditional wisdom or the restraints of custom...As cause and consequence of our general state of mind we completely misunderstood human nature, including our own.'

Berkeley was no accident. This had become a department of revolution. They did not misunderstand human nature, they despised it. Your free thinkers were not free. They were reflecting whispers and claiming them as their own.

Garet Garrett, 1939--
Revolution in the modern case is no longer an uncouth business.
Outside of the Communist Party and its aura of radical intellectuals few Americans seemed to know that revolution had become a department of knowledge, with a philosophy and doctorate of its own, a language, a great body of experimental data, schools of method, textbooks, and manuals.
There was a prodigious literature of revolutionary thought concealed only by the respectability of its dress.

Saul Alinsky made it all the way.

Posted by: james wilson at July 26, 2009 9:37 AM

I hadn't read this piece before, Gerard.

I'm not quite sure why, but it left me in a flood of tears.

I'm gonna go grab some tissues and think on this a while.

Posted by: Daphne at July 26, 2009 9:38 AM

Much to chew on here.

Interesting to me that we probably had a passing acquaintance during your years at Berkeley. I was posted as a Naval Aviation recruiter at NAS Alameda in 1966 and '67. Spent many days on campus being harrassed by students shouting, "Better Red than dead!" It was a wake up call for me. I had been apolitical up to that point in my life. It spurred me to do extensive reading, which led me to a conservo-libertarian philosophy. I have you and your fellow "Revolutionaries" to thank for helping me out on that score.

I share your desire for an all out effort to defeat the Islamofacists, but I am simultaneously horrified by what that would mean. We certainly have the firepower and military might to obliterate the militant Muslims, but in so doing we will be obliterating far too many Muslims who do not accept the jihad theory. Of course that is why they use Assymetric Warfare. It allows them to hide among the innocent and they rely on our sense of morals to use restraint in our actions. The new counter insurgency philosophy is that it is more a battle for hearts and minds of the uncommitteds than one of deadly force. (Deadly force has its uses in COIN warfare though.) Unfortunately, that is a slow, seemingly never ending road, which, as you pointed out, promises "blood, sweat, and tears" for as far as the eye can see. To commit to that for the next fifty years makes even strong men blanch. Would that someone had a better solution. It is plain that Obama does not.

Today's California college students are not all stupid, but you couldn't prove it by this video, which most might find quite frightening.

Certainly glad you're with the Resistance.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at July 26, 2009 11:23 AM

Right about now, and I know it's late for me, I'm about to start reading Nietzsche. Because in listening to an audiotape of Will Durant's survey of Western Philosophy, I came across a rant of astounding dimensions about the feminization of Europe. I fell asleep with the tape on at night and woke up in the morning hearing words like

..A general who uses up soldiers on the battlefield, where they have the pleasure of dying under the anesthesia of glory, if far nobler than the employer who uses up men in his profit machine; observe with what relief men leave their factories for the field of slaughter.

I fear that within a few weeks, I'm going to be sounding like Pat Buchanan. It might not be such a bad thing.

Posted by: Cobb at July 26, 2009 6:27 PM

Perhaps the best move is just to kill off the more annoying half of the baby-boomers?

It would save us their immature wailing and preachy "consciousness-raising" about this or that or the other expected apocalyptic environmental or economic tragedy.

Their deep emotional need to believe themselves able to stave off the end of all things by the power of slogans printed on T-shirts is shallow in the extreme, lacking even the intellectual depth of those "In Case Of Rapture This Car Will Be Unmanned" bumper-stickers. (The latter at least reflect the humility of someone who knows that the apocalypse will be unexpected and utterly beyond human control.)

It would save us having to pay their medical bills as these elderly hippies linger to their 115th year demanding Viagra and Cialis and hashish with a doctor's prescription.

We could take their stuff: Large houses, nice cars, and the upper end of the job market. It would unfortunately cause even more losses in the housing market as the sudden drop in boomer-aged homebuyers moved us to a state of being even more overbuilt than we are now. (But you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.)

We could burn all the stupid Che posters and shirts and finally stop having to hear about how the shallow buggers remember where they were when that highly overrated celebrity JFK got shot.

We would no longer be subjected to legions of nearly identical stringy-haired graybeards with pony-tails and women's eyeglasses wearing tie-dyed t-shirts and smoking pot as if this made them some kind of brave crusaders against conformity.

We could, in a nutshell, be well rid of these spoiled self-righteous crybabies who repeatedly shat on the legacy their parents worked and fought through so many trials to give them.

Good dam' riddance.

Posted by: Joking, I think at July 27, 2009 2:45 PM
Questions for Arlo Guthrie
Just Folk
Published: July 21, 2009

* * *

DS: Where are you politically these days?

I became a registered Republican about five or six years ago because to have a successful democracy you have to have at least two parties, and one of them was failing miserably. We had enough good Democrats. We needed a few more good Republicans. We needed a loyal opposition.

* * *

Posted by: Fat Man at July 28, 2009 5:05 AM

The Resistance will be the only way this country will survive. We no longer have a democracy anymore. Our country is now being run by corporations who use elected officials as their puppets for their personal agenda.Included in this mix is the media who gives the name "yellow journalism" an entire new definition. The culprit in all of this? The public school system who have had mindless liberal thinking teachers who passed their agenda to countless of mindless souls.

Posted by: Cilla Mitchell at July 28, 2009 8:02 AM

Ah yes.


The David Horowitz career arc revisited.

And with the very same result.

Wrong then. Wrong now.

So how come none of this occurred to you during all those years making big bucks peddling porn, libertinism, conspicuous consumption and limousine-Liberal politics at Penthouse?

Posted by: at July 28, 2009 10:43 AM


Posted by: vanderleun at July 28, 2009 11:59 AM

Very surprising interview with Arlo. Hope springs eternal.

Posted by: vanderleun at July 28, 2009 12:07 PM

Damn. Very courageous, depressing piece.

The comment I left over in Ka-Ching may as well sit here, too.

Brian left this comment on VDH's latest essay, "We've Crossed the Rubicon".

153. Brian:

"Obamacare is the culmination of 50 years of continuous, persistant, methodic tax funded indoctrination of Americas’ young. While repubs were fighting for tax cuts for corporations Leftists were taking control of schools, NPR and PBS. While Repubs were fighting for a strong military, leftists were taking control of the courts. We omitted the weightier matters. Now we lose even what we had."

Posted by: Cathy at March 22, 2010 12:52 PM

I like Arlo's music, and even met him once. But that interview sounds like he is trying to bring left/liberal views to the Republican Party, rather than trying to save the Democrat Party from insanity and Communism.

Posted by: rickl at March 22, 2010 6:31 PM

We travel a winding path.
I need to reaffirm and re-dedicate myself to liberty and integrity. Your insights and blog helps me.

Posted by: sweetpea at March 22, 2010 10:58 PM

It seems to me that if you don't go to war ready to achieve victory by any means necessary -- by any means necessary -- why would you bother to go at all?

Reminds me of The Warrior Song and our American soldiers who do want victory and do have the ability to achieve it, should they be unleashed.

I think a lot of us Americans, boomers or not, have this warrior spirit still.

Thank you for your amazing words and wisdom. You are appreciated!

Posted by: Amy at March 23, 2010 6:54 AM

It seems to me that the important war will not be between two factions in the USA, or the war of British liberation from the EU for that matter. After all, in both cases the disagreement is about a matter of degree.

The real war is one that has been going on for three thousand years or more; between Oriental-style despotism (as typified all those years ago by the Persian Empire) and Western democratic freedom or at worst feudalism (as typified by the Greek city states and later mediaeval Europe). The two sides now are without doubt typified by Islam and the West. And if, this time (as in that earlier time when a few hundred Spartans held the line) the other side wins - then there will be freedom no more forever, and eventually humanity will be extinct.

Unfortunately, this time the heroism of ordinary men such as those who fought against Hitler will not be enough, because there are not enough heroes left. And because of that - perhaps thunder, hellfire and the death-scream of dying matter will have to substitute.

One way or another, freedom is going to win. But the victory might be Pyrrhic.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at March 23, 2010 8:44 AM

Gerard, you might mention that far more of us baby boomers quietly went to work. For that matter, even at the height of Berkley and the Haight Ashbury there were far more of us Boomers at The Presidio and the Hunts Point naval Station, Treasure Island and Alameda, as well as the Army base in Oakland, the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, Travis AFB, right up the road in Fairfield.

Sorry, pal, you rich punks got the publicity, the rest of us did what we had to do. Most of us quietly raised our families while others of us fought the ghosts of the 58,000 of our brothers who were awarded the Order of the Aluminum Box.

I find it hard to say "welcome". I feel more like asking where the hell were you when it counted?

Posted by: Peter at March 23, 2010 9:54 PM

I don't need to speak for Gerard here, Peter, but I will say: Better late than never. There was a lot of foolishness in the 1960s, and not all of it was on the left. The war on drugs started in the 1960s, by moderate and liberal Republicans. That it has been maintained by politicians left and right since doesn't excuse that lies were generated to justify it.

There's crap I've done in the past of which I'm not too proud, and opinions I've boldly stated for which I'm ashamed today. So when someone tells me, "Oh, man, I was so stupid, then," I'm inclined to give him a rueful grin and say, "me, too, brother."

It is helpful to have former leftists on our side. They have a perspective those of us who never though that way lack. That's why I read Horowitz and others like him. Part of destroying the enemy is understanding his mind.

Posted by: Gordon at March 24, 2010 9:14 AM

Peter, please understand that I neither seek nor need your approval while I do understand your bitterness.

Being powerless to change the past, one makes ones amends as one can and when one can.

As to being "rich..." well, when you don't know nothing don't assume nothing since you will often be wrong.,

Posted by: vanderleun at March 24, 2010 9:52 AM

I am sending this essay to everyone on my contact list. It is that important.

I was never as radical as you, Gerard (and was 10 years behind), but I spent the '80s and early '90s as a radical who simply refused to listen to common sense.

What scares me most about where we're at today is that I know how the people in power think, because I used to think that way, too---and no amount of evidence and logic would dissuade me from my precious moral self-righteousness. I and my colleagues just KNEW that we were right and virtuous, and that therefore anyone opposing us had to be either ignorant or evil. Conservatives were nothing more than irritating obstacles who stubbornly refused to get out of the way and let us remake the world the way we KNEW it should be.

I can only imagine how much I would have feared and loathed the Tea Partiers--of whom I myself am now one.

Posted by: Kathy from Kansas at March 26, 2010 8:09 AM

"Don't you see? That would make us just like them." "Perhaps, but we would be alive to repent and reform."

If it weren't for the Resurrection, Jesus would be turning over in his grave!

Posted by: ken at March 26, 2010 1:50 PM

Powerful essay. Let's use Mario Savio's words against them:

"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"

Posted by: Scott M at February 6, 2014 12:19 PM

Yes, Maggie's Farm is a coven of new age fascists.

They talk like girls and chute like moths.

Nice jump photo of reds gettin' a grip.

Posted by: Leag at February 6, 2014 2:38 PM


"...we hate what we've become..."

You aren't the only one who HATES what the '60's generation has become.

They are vermin. They have filled in the openings in Big Media. They now run the government.

And they have made a TOTAL MESS of everything, turning the Constitution upside-down, and making everything "racist" instead of color blind, and demanding equality of results instead of equal opportunity, and sucking the hard-bitten taxpayers dry in their totally corrupt organized crime government syndicate, and in general, selling out American exceptionalism.

To hell with the '60's, and every asshole who grew up then and is now in a position of influence.

To hell with them.

Come the Revolution...


Posted by: Dr. Everett V. Scott at February 6, 2014 8:39 PM

The Athenian mob for the trial of Socrates was selected by lottery from what appears to have been the Athenian boomer class of the day. Socrates apparently was so disgusted by their opinions that he preferred answering them with the contempt for which they deserved more than he did living farther into his old age. I get that now.

Posted by: james wilson at February 6, 2014 11:00 PM

Nicely written.

Congratulations on the victory of your younger self. Perhaps you can recover his conceits and again believe in your own wisdom and goodness. For those of us opposed from Day One, have mercy when your younger self’s victory is complete.

Posted by: ErisGuy at February 7, 2014 4:11 AM

Put your actions where words are
put your new self in the game.
We can all stand by applaud you
but without action it's all the same.

Posted by: Gary Imperial at February 7, 2014 10:15 AM

As much as acting in the "Resistance" we need to act in the 'Persistence' --- promoting the principles enunciated in our Declaration of Independence within whose light the dark destructiveness of self-loathing and its consequences will cease to rot our society.

Posted by: Famously Unknown at February 13, 2014 5:20 PM

We need to relearn the lesson the Wrongs have not forgotten:
"Never, never, never give up."
h/t and nod to Winston Churchill

Posted by: Howard Nelson at December 6, 2016 9:29 AM

You said we were not willing. If you look back on history...we were never willing....until we finally had enough....and then it was Katy bar the doors. Our enemies frequently underestimate our capacity for high volume violence. That is why they foolishly push the envelope. The day will come when we reach the end of our tolerance....and then there will be blood. Of this you can be sure.

Posted by: Kevin Dickson at December 6, 2016 10:06 AM

Look, if Europe is willing to looted, raped and colonized; why not get on board before all the good stuff is gone?
We certainly don't want to live there, especially once the muzzies take over, but there's a lot of cool stuff that those ragheads won't appreciate and probably will burn because it's anti-immaginary-god.
The Mona Lisa would dress up the Lincoln Bedroom, the Effiel Tower would look keen in NYC Central Park.
Send the Marines over on a 'collection run' (one battalion should do it)and get it done before Putin sees that we're picking up the best stuff.

And guys, don't forget about the women. I speak for my viking ancestors when I say, "Only bring back the good looking ones".

Posted by: John the River at December 7, 2016 7:45 AM